Though it was strictly forbidden for legionnaires to leave France, I was determined to spend my millennium leave in London. From Calais gare, I caught the Sea France ferry bus to the dockside. There foot passengers got out and queued into the ticket terminal, which also served as a customs and passport checkpoint. While the others stood waiting, I made my way outside, around the terminal itself to the feeder road where automobiles were waiting to drive into the ferry hold. With, rucksack and all, I simply walked up to the driver's window of automobiles loaded with vacationing families, businessmen, and construction workers and asked whether they would kindly take me across the channel. Two labourers in a van filled with cases of Kronenbourg, Marlboros, and ruby-red made a place for me. There remained one obstacle capable of quickly bringing my London fantasy to an end—British passport control in Dover. The crates of wine helped me overcome this, for as we approached the controls, I simply hid behind them!
“Est-ce que vous êtes française?” I shouted over the music.
“Sorry,” I said. “I live in the South of France, and noticed your Latin silhouette.”
“Partially right,” she answered. “I'm a Londoner but mother is French-Italian.”
I made the bold move of running my finger lightly down her forehead and nose. She smiled and blushed.
“Why not join us for a chat later,” she said, timidly looking over shoulder at her friends.
“What do you mean later? I'm on my way right now."
I found out that her name was Gwyneth, and that she lived in trendy Islington. Later she took me to a West End café that both she and her friends frequented. We sat there drinking the English excuse for coffee with our legs entwined as we exchanged open-mouthed kisses. The video jukebox was playing Robbie Williams' classic Millennium.